As is typical for me, when I do something I tend to jump in big time.

You already know that I have a new rifle coming my way. It should get to the dealer on Friday and I’m hoping to pick it up on Saturday assuming the NICS isn’t still backed up.

There is also a shortage of .223 ammunition around so I could try out my new gun. I have 200 rounds, but that’s not as many as I would like to have on hand. That being said, I need to roll my own.

I got the last pound of powder that would work well in a .223 from Cabela’s. I have some primers on deck ready to go. I have a few bullets, though I think I have a source for more. The big limiting factor for me at the start was brass. That problem was solved today when the mail man brought a box of 2,000 cases. (They wear out — I wanted to lay in a good supply)

– = –

Loading a straight-walled pistol case goes something like this:

  1. Tumble the cases in some type of media like ground corn-cob to get them nice and clean. (optional)
  2. Apply a bit of sizing lube. (Optional if you’re using carbide dies. I do it to make the process smoother)
  3. Size the case and deprime
  4. Prime
  5. Add powder
  6. Flair the case to accept a bullet (Combined with adding powder for me)
  7. Seat a bullet
  8. Crimp the case (sometimes combined with seating, but I do it as another step)

The thing to keep in mind is that steps 3-8 are a pipeline if you’re using a progressive press like I do. Every time I pull the handle, each of those steps happens simultaneously in each of five stations. Every time I pull the handle, I get a finished cartridge dropping into my bucket.

So, how is this different from rifles?

  1. Tumble the cases in some type of media like ground corn-cob to get them nice and clean. (optional, but highly recommended since your die isn’t carbide)
  2. Apply a bit of sizing lube. (Required this time — and you do this one case at a time with your fingers — sprays don’t work as well)
  3. Size the case and deprime
  4. Trim the case to length
  5. Chamfer inside of the case mouth
  6. Deburr the outside of the case mouth
  7. Uniform the primer pocket (only the first time for each case, not needed for additional reloads)
  8. Clean the case of resizing lubricant
  9. Prime
  10. Add powder
  11. Seat a bullet

Steps 4-8 happen one case at a time, manually. It’s a lot slower than pistol cases. I was able to process around 150-200 cases in an hour to finish step 8. With pistol cartridges I’d have 500 rounds ready to go.

Oh well, I’m saving a crapload of cash. I figure with top-shelf components I can be all-in for around $0.27-$0.30 a round. Match-grade cartridges go for almost $1.00 a round. So, I guess I’m still coming out way ahead.  :-)